Six Tips for Eating Cheap at Walt Disney World in 2021
Welcome to a new year! Much at Walt Disney World changed in 2020, almost all of it by necessity.
As we enter 2021, Disney has shown no signs of bringing back the Disney Dining Plan anytime soon.
For some, myself included, this makes budgeting a Disney vacation a bit more challenging. The dining plans have a fixed cost.
Ordering a la carte off the menu isn’t as easy. However, there are still some things you can do to save money on your meals.
Here are a few tips for eating cheap at Walt Disney World in 2021.
Let’s start with one that doesn’t get discussed enough. When you’re standing in line, waiting to order, you naturally feel rushed.
After all, there’s a line behind you, and those people want you to order quickly so that they can get their food.
So, when you get to the front of the line, you’re in a hurry to pick something. And while you’re waiting in line, you’re too stressed to think clearly.
Enter Mobile Ordering.
This new way of picking your meals will help you with your food budget, too.
Now, you can order from anywhere in the park at any time.
Since you’re not in a rush, you can pick and choose the items that you believe will provide the best bang for the buck.
Don’t be afraid to pick the cheapest stuff on the menu because nobody’s judging you.
Instead, it’s just you, your app, and the cast member handing you your food.
Discounts, Discounts, Discounts
Did you know you can automatically get a discount on every Mobile Order?
This is absolutely true as long as you’re an annual passholder or Disney Vacation Club member, as long as the restaurant offers such discounts.
You will connect one/both of those memberships to your My Disney Experience account.
Then, when you use the Mobile Ordering feature on the app, it’ll automatically add your discount, saving you more money!
Of course, the same applies to standard orders, too. When you order in person, you must show proof of membership to qualify.
Other than that, the discount works the same, saving you as much as 20 percent off your meal.
Of course, other potential savings apply, too. For example, Disney Visa cardholders receive a discount off meals at certain restaurants.
I strongly recommend that frequent Walt Disney World guests sign up for this card for this reason. Both my wife and I have done so.
Plus, Disney credit cards are quite shiny. You get to choose the character and style you want!
Some individual restaurants offer their own discount programs as well.
Earl of Sandwich operates an E-Club that will save you money on purchases while providing rewards points for future free food.
I highly recommend this card for two other reasons. Members receive priority seating at Landry’s restaurants, a lifesaver on a crowded day.
Also, you’ll receive a $25 credit during your birthday month each year. So, by planning your visit that month, you’ll get a free meal during your trip!
Tables in Wonderland
This suggestion depends on how frequently you visit Walt Disney World.
I’ve mentioned two potential ways to save up to 20 percent on meals.
With Tables in Wonderland, you’ll save 20 percent at every participating restaurant.
Tables in Wonderland is a paid program that mostly applies to Florida residents and regular Disney travelers.
You’ll pay either $150 if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member or $175 as a Florida resident.
In exchange, you’ll get a discount at all restaurants listed in the Tables in Wonderland guide.
Your savings apply to up to 10 people in your party, making it exceptional for social butterflies.
While Disney doesn’t publicize the program much, it runs Tables in Wonderland. Here are details from Disney’s official site.
You also receive free parking when you have dining reservations at the parks or resorts.
The lone caveat about Tables in Wonderland is that Disney blocks off specific holidays like Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
So, you cannot use your membership card to receive a discount on these dates. Otherwise, it’s an outstanding deal.
More than 100 restaurants participate in Tables in Wonderland. You’ll find the complete list here.
Even a pandemic couldn’t stop EPCOT from hosting its world-renowned international festivals.
We’ve already started the third one since July, Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.
During the current exhibition, EPCOT operates more than 15 Food Studios.
You can order many delicious entrees for $5-$8, and it’s the kind of food that you won’t find elsewhere at Walt Disney World.
In truth, you’d struggle to locate this stuff easily elsewhere in Orlando, especially at these prices.
Thanks to Disney, you can roam the World Showcase and discover plenty of international cuisine at gas station hoagie prices.
If you want to get the most out of your vacation food budget, you should strongly consider a visit during an EPCOT festival. It’ll save you money.
Leave the Disney Bubble
Okay, I admittedly don’t practice what I preach on this one.
Once I’m safely ensconced in the Disney Bubble, I never want to leave until my Tragical Express paperwork arrives.
However, I accept that I’m not like most people. And the reality is that you can save a fortune by leaving the Walt Disney World campus.
Many nearby restaurants sell the same general cuisine for a fraction of the price.
Disney doesn’t price much of its food competitively because it doesn’t have to do so. Most people will pay a bit more for the convenience.
You’re not most people, though. You’re a savvier tourist reading this article to save some money and thereby stretch your vacation budget.
As such, you should research places like Sofrito Latin Café, Hot Dog Heaven, Q’Kenan, and Beefy King.
Those of you who want to experience something unique should consider dining at U & Me Revolving Hot Pot.
Disney Springs Third Party Restaurants
You can also save some money while staying on the Disney campus.
Many Disney Springs restaurants feature cheaper fare than locations at the parks.
I’ve already mentioned the least expensive option, Earl of Sandwich. It’s a favorite among Orlando locals for good reason.
Two people can eat here for less than $20, which is hard to do anywhere, much less at Walt Disney World.
Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll then blow your savings at World of Disney.